Kei Nishikori might still be having nightmares of the last time he played Stan Wawrinka just a few months ago. The Japanese number one was 6-2 2-0 up against Wawrinka in New York and the Swiss number one went on to win and of course lift the title but what will be the keys in this meeting at the O2?
Kick serve + backhand
Opening up the court and being effective off the serve is tough. Stan is probably the best in the game at the kick serve out wide and following up with a stunning backhand. We saw Dominic Thiem do it against Djokovic but Stan is so much consistent with this shot than the Austrian.
This serve is so devastating out-wide. Kei isn’t the tallest so the high bounce and speed of the court this year at the O2 will help the three time Grand Slam champion. You can see above how far wide this serve has pushed Kei and he still hasn’t made contact with the ball at this point, he will be outside the doubles tramline when he makes contact and in this position it’s lose/lose as it will be near on impossible to find the backhand up the line and safer option is backhand crosscourt but hey this is Stan, backhand crosscourt is not safe…
This is Stan and Kei admiring that backhand down the line that Stan hit on the return. Not a chance.
forehand and follow!
On the baseline I do worry for Kei and what we saw work so well in the opening two sets was the forehand followed by the approach to the net.
It was effective as he went into the backhand corner of Stan with pace forcing him to play that sliced backhand where as if you go into the backhand of Stan with little power then be careful because he can unleash one up the line or cross court and make you look a little silly.
Return of serve
Going back to Stan’s serve, Kei never really got a feel of it after the first 10 games. The intensity dropped from the former US Open finalist and it became too easy for Stan on serve.
Already spoken about Stan’s serve out-wide on the ad side but on the deuce court it became too easy as well. Kei has his right foot planted to the ground when this serve comes in looking ready to swing but got it all wrong and missed it completely with Stan hitting an ace through at 90mph on a kick/slice isn’t good defending.
I can’t see Stan losing this. His form has been a bit off recently with some surprises but he turns up at these big events and I think the court and speed suits him. I do think Kei could cause problems and I’d be surprised if he didn’t take a set but I’m not sure the consistent variety and level of performance is there to unsettle Stan.
Screenshots via British Eurosport 1